Taxation and Innovation: What Do We Know?
Tax policies are a wide array of tools, commonly used by governments to influence the economy. In this paper, we review the many margins through which tax policies can affect innovation, the main driver of economic growth in the long-run. These margins include the impact of tax policy on i) the quantity and quality of innovation; ii) the geographic mobility of innovation and inventors across U.S. states and countries; iii) the declining business dynamism in the U.S., firm entry, and productivity; iv) the quality composition of firms, inventors, and teams; and v) the direction of research effort, e.g., toward applied versus basic research, or toward dirty versus clean technologies. We give ideas drawn from research on how the design of policy can allow policy makers to foster the most productive firms without wasting public funds on less productive ones.
We thank Austan Goolsbee and Ben Jones for very valuable feedback. The authors thank National Science Foundation for financial support. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.